Thursday, September 24, 2009

Envy

Before Kali was conceived, just before Kali was conceived, I wrote about finding joy in the midst of infertility, and how it seemed somehow like I had achieved the task that God had set out for me. It's not uncommon to believe that our difficulties exist for a reason; as a Jew I believe that my soul was given the opportunity to choose its path, knowing everything about it, and therefore the obstacles I face are part of my task in the universe. If only I knew what that task was.

I'm getting a sense, though, of what I need to do next. Not in terms of infertility, but in terms of my soul, my self; I believe this is the year that I am to learn how to control (and, hopefully, discard) my tendency towards envy.

A couple of illustrations:

1. I was 23 years old, and was finishing up my professional internship. While getting ready for work one day a good friend called to tell me she was engaged. Tears sprang to my eyes - she and her fiance had only been dating for a few months, whereas I had been dating Mr. December for six YEARS, and was desperately waiting for him to propose. I managed a breathless "congrats!", hung up, and headed to work. Not thirty minutes into my work day I had a complete breakdown. Sobbing, blubbering, I ran to the nearest room with a door and ended up telling all to my supervisor. Later that evening I confessed my sadness and anger to my parents: "It's like she butted in front of me! I've been waiting in this line much longer! It's not fair! I feel like Mr. D is never going to propose, and that makes me so unhappy!" My parents, particularly my father, were shocked and apparently unimpressed at my lack of sincere happiness for my friend. I was, eventually, able to be truly excited for her - two months later, when Mr. December proposed to me.

2. I was 26 years old and had just had a miscarriage at nine weeks, after seeing a heartbeat and being told everything was perfect. At the time I worked for a very small Jewish organization, and my boss was a wonderful man with a gorgeous wife and four perfect kids. It was about a month after my miscarriage, just about when my depression was at its worst. He told me (as gently as possible) that his wife was "expecting" again (I hate that euphemism, but I'll cover that another time) and that he wanted to be the one to tell me rather than having me find out in public and having to deal with it then. It was kind of him, but I broke down anyway. Through my tears I assured him that I was happy for them, but desperately sad for myself. It wasn't until I got to the car that heaving sobs overtook me. I called my mother and wailed, "How come God can make sure that Dov and his wife get five pregnancies and perfect, healthy children every time, and He can't give me ONE?!?!?!?" Ostensibly because of my depression, but catalyzed by this incident, I quit my job and spent the next eight months shutting out the world.

3. See yesterday's post.


As you see, I don't do well when reminded that other people have what I had wanted for myself. Not literally - I didn't want my friend's fiance, nor would I have liked to gestate and raise Dov's fifth child - but when I see others living experiences I've dreamt of, and been denied, I lose it.

I need not to. I want to be able to acknowledge others' happiness, congratulate them sincerely, and then continue to enjoy the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. I'm well aware that the world isn't fair; in fact, this has generally worked in my favour. But I'm still paralyzed, unable to move into the realm of counting my blessings and falling back on them when fate seems to be thumbing its nose at me. I need to watch Kali climb the jungle gym and laugh with her without lamenting the fact that I'm not also holding a newborn. I need to revel in Mr. December's love (and, dare I say, passion?) without feeling that our relationship is incomplete because we're not well on our way to having four children by age 35.

I know that sometimes I will be sad, and sometimes I will feel incomplete. But my goal for this year is that those feelings not be set off by other people's happy news. I need to kick envy to the curb.

3 comments:

Heather said...

Wow.

Um, I know you wrote this about you but I'm pretty sure this was God holding a mirror up for me. I needed to read this today.

All I can say is: Me too.

Heather said...

And Thank You for blessing me today.

Caro said...

and me.